Ai Weiwei: An Open Letter to the Prime Minister of Australia

Concerning the detention of the artist Ai Weiwei and numerous other Chinese citizens:

The Honourable Julia Gillard MP

Dear Prime Minister,

I understand that you will be making an official visit to the People’s Republic of China from the 25th to 28th April.

May I draw your attention to the recent reports in the press that 54 “dissidents” have been detained by the Chinese Government in the past two weeks.

Most notable among the many significant figures in this group is the internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei, who appears to have been detained under a series of variously mysterious accusations. All the evidence suggests this an extra-judicial process, as Australians would understand it.

His detention has been condemned by the unprecedented number of highly placed international institutions, artists and public intellectuals I have listed below.

Notable among these has been a spokesman for the U.S. Head of State Hillary Clinton, and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Given Australia’s proud history of democratic rights and robust political debate, this recent rash of arrests and the consequential suppression of civil liberties and freedom of speech deserves your most serious attention. Just as the destiny and wellbeing of our two countries are closely tied together, so are our two systems of social justice. As an Australian citizen I urge you to raise these matters in your discussions at the highest level with the Chinese Government.

Yours sincerely

Nigel Lendon

19th April, 2011

The following international political figures have called for the release of Ai Weiwei:

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel:

The U.S. State Department Acting Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner:

Public Institutions who have petitioned for his release include:

Richard Armstrong, Director, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation
and Alexandra Munroe, Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art
Juan Ignacio Vidarte, Director General, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao,
and Deputy Director and Chief Officer for Global Strategies, Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation
Glenn Lowry, Director, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Sir Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate and Chris Dercon, Director, Tate Modern
Kaywin Feldman, President, Association of Art Museum Directors and Director
and President, Minneapolis Institute of Arts
Yongwoo Lee, President, The Gwangju Biennale Foundation
Michael Govan, Director, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Vishakha Desai, President and Melissa Chiu, Vice President of Global Arts, Asia Society
Jim Cuno, President and Director, Art Institute of Chicago
Julián Zugazagoitia, Director, Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas City
Ann Philbin, Director, Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles
Olga Viso, Director, Walker Art Center
Alfred Pacquement, Director, Musée national d’art moderne/Centre de création industrielle, Paris
Arnold Lehman, Director, Brooklyn Museum
Jill Medvedow, Director, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes
and Director of International Projects, Serpentine Gallery, London
Poul Erik Tøjner, Director, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark
Nathalie Bondil, Director and Chief Curator, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Neal Benezra, Director, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Tony Ellwood, Director, and Suhanya Raffel, Deputy Director, Queensland Art Gallery, Australia
Thomas W. Lentz, Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director, Harvard Art Museums

…who have sponsored this petition at which has attracted more than 90,000 signatures

Plus also see the signatories to this open letter:

The most recent reporting of the arrests of the 54 “dissidents” in the New York Times of April 16 is to be found here.

Further details of this international campaign may be found here:

Image: with apologies to Shepard Fairey and with thanks to Ampersand Duck who wrangled the graphics. This image is not restricted by copyright and iconophilia encourages its FREE usage by others.


#1 FREE Ai Weiwei — transit lane on 04.19.11 at 7:39 am

[…] Sign the global petition, share the image, press your local member! Details and my open letter are over on iconophilia. […]

#2 cainandtoddbenson on 04.22.11 at 12:33 am

My Thoughts. “Ai Weiwei-Freedom”. Art, image.

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